Restoration or Desolation: The Five of Cups Makes a Choice

Restoration or Desolation: The Prophet Micah Speaks     I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob, I will gather the survivors of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture; it will resound with people.  The one who breaks out will go up before them; they will break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king will pass on before them, the Lord at their head. (Micah 2:12-13) In this passage the words of the prophet shift from … [Read more...]

Vanishing Like Dew: The Reversed Four of Pentacles

Vanishing Like Dew: The Charge Against Us What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?     What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud,     like the dew that goes away early. (Hosea 6:4) The prophet Hosea speaks on God's behalf as he criticized the nations of Israel and Judah for their inconstancy. Apparently their love of God is changeable and unreliable, like the morning dew which vanishes quickly. It's as though they can't focus our attention on God with any persistence … [Read more...]

The Fighting Five of Wands: What Are You Made Of?

The Five of Wands.... and Taking the Census?  Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying: Enroll the Levites by ancestral houses and by clans. You shall enroll every male from a month old and upward.  So Moses enrolled them according to the word of the Lord, as he was commanded.  The following were the sons of Levi, by their names: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.  These are the names of the sons of Gershon by their clans: Libni and Shimei.  The sons of Kohath by their clans: … [Read more...]

Gonna Make this Garden Grow: Micah and the Seven of Pentacles

Gonna Make this Garden Grow - Or Not You shall eat, but not be satisfied,     and there shall be a gnawing hunger within you; you shall put away, but not save,     and what you save, I will hand over to the sword.  You shall sow, but not reap;     you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil;     you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine. (Micah 6:14-15) I opened my Bible this morning to this rather somber account of God's judgment against Israel. God tells the people that … [Read more...]

Greening the Dead Tree: The Queen of Pentacles Meets Ezekiel

Greening the Dead Tree: Ezekiel Speaks I will take a tender shoot from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on top of Israel's highest mountain. It will become a noble cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter beneath its branches. And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts down the tall tree and helps the short tree to grow tall. It is who makes the green tree wither and gives new life to the dead tree. … [Read more...]

When Temples Fall: Making Sense of the Election

When Temples Fall Do We Fall Too? I write this at the end of a tumultuous week for the US, where half of us seem to be grieving, half of us rejoicing, and apparently neither side understanding where the other is coming from. I write knowing that some people will not be ready to read this. If you supported a Trump presidency, and can't figure out why everyone is so scared, you might read this to gain a little insight; but you might not. If you're in the terrified/traumatized crowd, you might … [Read more...]

Choosing the Path of Life: Reflection on Deuteronomy

What is the Path of Life? My daughter recently turned twelve. The other day she posed this question in the car: What does it mean when people tell you to "be yourself"? She said she wasn't sure who she really was as a person, so how could she BE that person? I told her she was right, that we don't start off knowing precisely who we are. It's something we figure out as we move along. We try out different roles, different activities, different beliefs and ideas. We're looking for the ones that … [Read more...]

A Definition of Faith: Seeing What Isn’t There

A Definition of Faith When I was a young pastor I offered definition of faith to a class full of children. I used everyday occurrences to help illustrate. We have faith at night that the sun will rise again, and we have faith that when we sow a seed that it will grow into a plant. My definition of faith for them was even though we don't see something now we believe it will still come to pass. Now that I'm older though I feel I might have done these kids a disservice giving them the most … [Read more...]

Living a “Double Portion” Life

Asking for a Double Portion? We've spent the last several Sundays with the mighty prophet Elijah - his celebration of power and his learning in weakness. As we approach this Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Year C), we find one more Elijah story  - that of his leaving this earth (2 Kings 2). I've mentioned before how much I loved stories of Elijah when I was a child. This one really captured my imagination - the chariot of fire, the whirlwind from heaven, Elijah being swept up into glory. I almost … [Read more...]

“It Is Enough”: The Prophet Elijah Quits!

Trials of the Prophet Elijah Elijah is easily one of the most impressive prophets in the Hebrew text, known particularly for his mighty and miraculous acts of power. As a child I always enjoyed reading about Elijah - how he revived the widow's son and gave her never-ending jars of meal and oil; how he absolutely soaked an altar with water and called down the divine fire to lap it all up; how he even escapes death by being caught up in a chariot of fire, delivered directly to God. No doubt, … [Read more...]